Sunday, July 20, 2014

Introduction to Four-Way Bargello, Part 2

Peak and plateau stitch samples
Stitch sampler
I'd like to show you how to develop a four-way pattern based on the simple peaks we explored in “Bargello Basics, Part 2 (March 21, 2014). The basic peak is shown at the upper left in lavender. Remember that the basic bargello stitch is an upright one crossing over four canvas threads. (Always count threads, not canvas squares, to make a stitch.) To ascend the peak, skip the first bottom thread and begin the next stitch one thread higher up. To descend the peak, skip the first top stitch and begin the next stitch one thread lower down. Now look at the lower lavender peak. This one is made by skipping two threads at each step. Two threads are also skipped in making the top dark blue peak. However, this one has three identical top stitches, instead of one. This gives it a flat top I'll call a plateau. The final peak also has a plateau, but the ascending and descending stitches are doubled. Practice this last pattern, because it is the basis of the four-way pattern.

Practice piece for "Midwinter Blues" four-way bargello I've been doing bargello for many years, but I still practice my patterns on plastic canvas before I do them on needlepoint canvas. If there are going to be problems with the design, I will find them at the practice stage. If I'm going to make mistakes (as I probably will), I will make and correct them there. I strongly suggest you practice on plastic canvas, too. You will want your first four-way to be special, and “practice makes perfect.” You can file your plastic practice piece for future reference. Here is my practice piece for this project. 

Marked up plastic practice canvas
Start with a square piece of plastic canvas that has an odd number of squares each way (49, 51, 63, 75, etc.) Find the center vertical row of squares and mark it with a permanent marker. Do the same with he center horizontal row. Starting with the center square each time, carefully put in the four diagonals from the center to the corners of the square. It is important that they be exact. Count up from the center square (number 1) to the eleventh square of mesh and mark it. Do the same for the eleventh squares down from the center, to the left, and to the right.

Baseline stitching in four colors, showing miters
Baseline stitching in four colors, showing miters
Bring your needle up through the marked square above the center, cross over the four threads above (represented by the bars on the plastic canvas), and push the needle down through the next empty square. You have made the center stitch of the first plateau. Now make the identical stitches on each side plateau made. Make a descent, using pairs of stitches with a two-thread drop. You will make two complete pairs, but the third cannot be complete because it is interrupted by the diagonal line. The first stitch of this shortened pair will cross over two threads and end in the square on the diagonal line. The second stitch will cross over only one thread and end on the diagonal. Push your needle under the completed stitches on the back of the canvas and return to the plateau. Make an identical descent to the diagonal on the other side. Run your needle under the stitches on the back again and cut your yarn. Turn your canvas 90 degrees. And repeat the pattern. I have done each quarter of the pattern in a different color to make the directions easier to understand. You will do all four quarters in the same color. I recommend that you use the darkest color in your color scheme.

Stitch sampler showing stitches inward from baseline
Working inward from the baseline
Now that you have all four quarters of your pattern connected, you have the baseline of your bargello. Working in from the baseline to the center of the canvas, notice how your shortened stitches form V's at the diagonals. Corners made by two stitches at right angles to each other that meet in the same square (the diagonal) are called mitered (or mitred) corners. In this sample, the second (green) row has a plateau with a complete pair of stitches and miters (mitres) on each side. The lavender row has a plateau with miters on each side. The center square (orange) is made up of four tiny triangles, each with a center stitch over two threads and a stitch over a single thread on each side, which forms a miter with the corresponding stitch on the next triangle. Practice this until you know your center is correct.

Sampler showing stitches outward from baseline
Working outward from the baseline
Now you are ready to work outward from the baseline. From now on you can simply work outward from each stitch with an identical stitch, mitering at the diagonals. You do not need to work back and forth across a quarter the way I had you do in establishing the baseline. As you move outward from the baseline, you will add a complete pair of stitches on each side of the plateau (see the green stitches). The plateau and the miters stay the same. As you near the edges of your canvas (lavender and orange stitches), you may not have room enough to do complete stitches. Do as much of each stitch as the canvas permits. Once you are confident of the pattern you have worked on the plastic canvas, go ahead and start it on needlepoint canvas. (Again, I recommend that you turn your canvas 90 degrees each time the stitches change direction.)

Finally, here is my completed canvas, “Midwinter Blues”. I used a light blue, a medium blue, and a dark blue, with the dark blue as the baseline. I wanted the design to have a frosty twinkle, so I top-stitched the middle of the finished canvas with metallic silver floss.

Finished "Midwinter Blues" four-way bargello
Finished "Midwinter Blues" four-way bargello, 12" x 12", tapestry yarn and metallic floss on #10 mono canvas

Good luck with your first four-way. Have fun.






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